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WRC must begin proactively reporting work permit breaches - Louise O’Reilly TD

20 October, 2021 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this morning in the Enterprise, Trade, and Employment Committee, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, called out the Workplace Relations Commission for not reporting breaches of Atypical Work Permit Schemes by rogue employers to the Department of Justice.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Workplace Relations Commission inspections are an active way for the organisation to monitor compliance with employment law in the state. Inspections, and the threat of inspections, are often an effective deterrent to employers breaching workers’ rights and employment law.

“However, there are rogue employers out there who trample on employment law and exploit workers in order to line their own pockets and undercut decent employers while they are at it.

“One such exploitative practice is the abuse of migrant workers in the fishing sector working under the Atypical Work Permit Scheme (AWS). 

“In the 12 months from May 2020 to May 2021 the WRC detected 43 contraventions of employment rights or employment permits legislation in the fisheries sector.

“Such breaches ranged from failure to grant annual leave and public holiday entitlements, unauthorised deductions from wages, failure to pay the national minimum wage, and contraventions of working time regulations, amongst others.

“However, today at the Enterprise, Trade, and Employment Committee it was revealed that the WRC does not inform the Department of Justice when breaches of Atypical Work Permit Scheme happen.

“The result being that if the Department of Justice are not alerted then prosecutions don't happen, and rogue employers can continue to use the AWS scheme and possibly abuse workers further.

“This practice must end immediately; any breaches of the AWS scheme must be reported to the Department of Justice by the WRC in order to ensure justice for victims and that rogue employers are punished and cannot continue to abuse migrant workers.”

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